Three Ways to Survive an Earthquake, Continued


Continued  from Three Ways to Survive an Earthquake. . .

So we’ve looked briefly at Triangle of Life, and at Drop, Cover and Hold On.  What about the third option, that old standby:

3.  Get Under a Doorway.

In the “old” days, an exterior doorway in a brick or adobe building might have been the only place that was reinforced.  Today, that could still be the case — but you won’t really know. And frankly, if you’ve ever been in an earthquake (which I have), you discover that it’s really tough to move across a room to a doorway in the first place.  And if you do happen to be conveniently standing there when the quake hits, you will immediately discover that a swinging door may want to take the same spot you are in.

So which option is best?

The fact is that they all may be right in some circumstances and wrong in others.  Just like no two earthquakes are identical, so too are no two buildings the same or sited in the same relation to the quake.  Around the world and even within the United States building codes, styles and ages change with nearly every different building you enter.

While videos of collapsing buildings and freeways make for compelling news coverage, most deaths and injuries occur from falling or flying household items, appliances or debris, the effects of which could have been mitigated by securing these items before a major quake!

Back to Copp and the Triangle of Life.  The major criticism of his theory seems to be that the time it takes to find a suitable location puts you in greater danger. (The fact that he, himself, seems to have tried to manipulate the data, and actually defraud FEMA, doesn’t help his case.) Yes, if you spend most of your days and nights in the same place (or are border-line neurotic) you may know the best place to head for.  But most of us aren’t likely to survey every location we traverse through for the best ToL spot, room-by-room and building-by-building.

What we do know is that split-second decisions can make the difference between life and death in a major calamity. You do not have time to figure out a place to be. And you are not likely to be able to even get there.

In conclusion, I have only three pieces of advice.

First, if the earthquake hits before you have time to pursue the controversy, DROP, COVER and HOLD ON. Do it immediately, without trying to move to another place or another room.

Second, if you’re still interested, go to the Wikipedia article on the Triangle of Life and slog your way through the whole thing.  It’s full of references and sources for different opinions and some of them seem reasonable for certain situations.

And third, welcome the controversy!  The fact that ToL is controversial means that it’s a great centerpiece for discussions that will raise people’s awareness.  That alone will undoubtedly save some people’s lives by getting them to think about the real dangers of earthquakes before they experience a serious one.


Joe Krueger
Your Emergency Plan Guide Team


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